The couture houses are obviously in love with China (see here and here), but like an awkward adolescent fumbling for expression, their odes of love are also getting tangled with clumsiness and impulses of another kind. If it’s not Prada’s implacable mandarins, then it’s Chanel’s take on take-out! Clearly, these companies are trying to break new ground, and then some.
Along comes Christian Dior with its equestrian-themed Fall 2010 collection, and the infamous Shanghai campaign that’s been blogged about here and here. The clothes and the supermodels look splendid but seem to send the message that Dior’s models are to the 1.3 billion socialist masses what Snow White was to the seven dwarves.
If China’s upwardly mobile fashionistas are sensitive to misperceived stereotypes as they are to changing hemlines, then executives at LVMH Moet Hennessy have cause for worry. According to Blackbook, sales gains in Asia were the highest (21 percent) for Dior’s parent company, followed by US and European sales. The magazine also reports (emphasis mine) “China is the leading catalyst for such a drastic post-recession success story.” Clearly luxury fashion is digging in its 6″ stiletto heels and revving up for some action!
Still, I find it highly unlikely that Dior’s slight faux-pas registers at all with the style-conscious of Asia, at least not for now. Couture’s status symbol is highly sought after by China’s rising consumers, much like elsewhere. And the clones of blue collar workers may not seem like racial stereotypes. It’s all a matter of perspective.
But I’d like to see couture houses take on the challenge of better advertising. They certainly have the means to do so.
So Dior, instead of penalizing the sameness of the most important demographic in the world, how about humanizing their characteristics? How about wowing them with some truly groundbreaking fashion campaigns for a change? It could only help your sales.